Surviving Shootings with Run, Hide, and Fight
Last year, Penn State University announced that it would adopt the “Run, Hide, Fight” approach as the official university plan to help students, faculty, and staff be prepared for a violent attack on campus.
“Moving toward the ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ program, we are providing our community members with a very simple, yet effective way to respond during active-attacker situation,” said Penn State chief of police Keith Morris. “The previous program that we had in place — ‘StaySAFE’, which was implemented in 2014 — still carried the same messages as ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’ However, it was a little less intuitive and not as well known.”
Penn State University is not the only university to adopt the program — it’s also the active-attacker response program at the majority of Big Ten schools.
It is also used by many other enterprises nationally, and advocated by the Department of Homeland Security.
According to DHS, the basics of the Run, Hide, Fight program are:
RUN and escape, if possible. Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow. Call 911 when you are safe, and describe shooter, location, and weapons.
HIDE, if escape is not possible. Silence all electronic devices and lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off lights. Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
FIGHT as an absolute last resort, with others, using makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc.
Yet, there are some security industry leaders who question the strategy, saying that it fails to address the “Freeze”, is based on linear thinking and it fosters a non-aggressive mindset.
Others have challenged that Run, Hide, Fight doesn’t adequately address the reality of an active shooter attack. They also question advocating the “Fight” part – as most people are not trained in self-defense techniques, so fighting back could get you hurt, or even killed.
Should you institute the Run, Hide, Fight philosophy in your workplace?
Different situations call for different strategies, as your specific situation and location will matters if the Run, Hide, Fight protocol is directly followed, or if another type of response is necessary. There is never going to be a universal rule for any organization, so the key is to ensure that all employees are prepared to improve their chances of survival. This entails regular training on exactly what part of the protocol means and does not mean. It should incorporate regular group training for current and new employees, and could incorporate training videos and outside consultants and others sources of information. The key is to train, train and retrain.
The more protocols that you have in place for an active shooter event, the more likely you are to minimize the damage to your employees, visitors, and colleagues.
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